We were sitting around in Winter Park planning the next few days of our trip the other day. We’d decided that we’d take a late departure from WP, spend the night out, and arrive in Grand Lake on Saturday night. We’d gone so far as to tell Mother Goose and Swan who we’d run into that that was our plan. Then Scott discovered that, as the crow flies, Grand Lake is only 35 miles from Winter Park. Surely we could cover that sort of distance on trail in a day.
We wanted to get to Grand Lake and spend the night there because we’d heard good things about the hostel perched up on a cliff.
So we changed our plans, made reservations for hostel bunk beds, and tried to finish up the last minute things that needed finishing up. And we prepared for a (somewhat) early start.
We rolled out of town at 9:30. This is impressive because we cleaned up the condo, packed our bikes, went to the post office, reassembled our bounce box and sent it off to my least favorite town in Wyoming, had breakfast at Rise and Shine, and bought a little more trail food from the Stop and Go. 9:30 was pretty good.
We rolled through the Rendez Vous/Idywild trails and onto Twisted Ankle. It’d been rerouted! I’d expected to have to push-a-bike up most of it, but fall line descents had been replaced by moderately graded switchbacks, silly upsy-daisies had been replaced by contouring trail. Professionally built trail, bermed corners and all.
$10 says they run the Winter Park BME Enduro from the trestles down. You heard it here first.
We rode FR129 north to High Lonesome. I hadn’t ridden the trail in years. The first time, I broke a frame in the middle of it and had to hike out and hitchhike back to Fraser. I remembered lots of roots and rocks. I remembered correctly.
It was a perfect bikepacking tech level. And we were perfectly ready for some smooth cruising after 6 miles of it. It’s a glorious little piece of CDT open to bikes, if mucky in places.
Next came the “unknown” part of our route, the 6 mile long Caribou trail. We had a GPX of someone riding it, but they’d described it as “bushwacky”. It started out a rocky, rollicking good time, but we’ve learned: Never judge a trail by its first mile.
As always seems to happen, things went south right about a mile in. The trail became faint. Where it existed, it wasn’t rideable. At one point in time, it climbed a hillside only to come back down a quarter mile later. We opted to bushwack across a bog with ankle deep water instead of fighting through the hillside boulder field.
And hour and a half in, Scott declared: This isn’t going to be the CDT bike route. The BS factor was starting to go through the roof.
And like magic, the trail turned good again. Why does it always have to do that?
We hooked up with Strawberry Creek trail, which we knew was going to be okay because my brother had ridden it…well, he rode it until he crashed his new 6″ travel trail bike on it and broke his collar bone. It went well and we celebrated with a cinnamon roll from Rise and Shine.
Then up Doe Creek, named not because of the deer population but after Lady Doe, who was a woman of questionable morals back in the 1800’s (?). She’d go on to marry the Silver King of Leadville, Tabor, and they’d go on wicked spending sprees, building opera houses in Denver and other buildings. They both died broke, but it sure sounds like they had quite a run at life.
The Doe trail had one climb, one descent, another descent that we rode in the wrong direction, and then a descent down to the lake. (I told Scott after the first climb that I didn’t believe there’d be any more climbing on the trail, and that if I stopped believing, Tinkerbell would die.)
We rode dirt then pavement back onto the highway and headed into Grand Lake. A loud paved ride with lots of traffic, but a good shoulder and amazing views.
Pizza was for dinner where we ran into Sailor, Alfredo, Friendly, and Maverick. Then onto the hostel on the hill. Seriously amaze-ball views. And quiet, which is amazing because it’s booked nearly full. Every time we think we’ve found the coolest place to stay on the CDT, we find something better.
Tomorrow, one more Wilderness detour then on the CDT all the way to Steamboat.